NEW YORK (WABC)—— New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez will appear in court Wednesday to answer charges that he used his position to secretly promote Egyptian interests and provide favors to New Jersey businessmen in exchange for bribes.
Menendez, the former chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and his wife, Nadine, were indicted on Friday.
The three-count indictment specifically alleges that Menendez used his position to help Egypt’s authoritarian government and pressure federal prosecutors to drop cases against friends. The report also alleges that the couple accepted bribes — gold bars, a luxury car and cash — from three New Jersey businessmen in exchange for the corrupt conduct.
The Democrat will make his first appearance in Manhattan federal court amid growing calls from colleagues for him to resign from Congress. Menendez has resisted repeated calls to resign.
Menendez was forced to resign as chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations after the indictment was filed last week. He said accusations that he abused his power to enrich himself were baseless. He said he was confident he would be exonerated and had no intention of leaving the Senate.
Authorities said they found nearly $500,000 in cash, much of it hidden in clothing and closets, and more than $100,000 in gold bars during a search of the New Jersey home where Menendez, 69, and his wife shared a home.
On Monday, Menendez said the cash found in his home was withdrawn from his personal savings account over the years and kept on hand for emergencies. He didn’t mention gold bars or gifted luxury cars.
“I recognize this is going to be the biggest fight yet, but as I’ve said throughout this process, I firmly believe that when all the facts are presented, not only will I be acquitted, but I will still be is New Jersey’s senior senator,” Menendez said on the campus of Hudson County Community College in Union City, where he grew up.
This is the second corruption case against Menendez in a decade, with his last trial involving different charges ending in 2017 when a jury failed to reach a verdict.
Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., on Tuesday joined calls for Menendez’s resignation, saying in a statement that the indictment contains “shocking allegations of corruption and specific, disturbing misconduct.” detail”. About half of Senate Democrats now say Menendez should step down, including some running for re-election next year.
“I find these accusations difficult to reconcile with people I know,” Booker continued. “It is no surprise to me that Senator Menendez is once again determined to mount a vigorous defense. I continue to believe that he, like anyone involved in our criminal justice system, should be presumed innocent until proven guilty. crime.
While Menendez maintains his innocence, Booker said public officials must be held to a higher standard of common ideals, while senators act under the public’s trust — which is critical to their ability to do their jobs and discharge their duties. Crucial.
“The detailed nature of the allegations against Senator Menendez is such that the faith and trust of New Jerseyans and those he must work with to be effective has been shaken to its core,” Booker said.
Booker said he believed resigning was not an admission of guilt but “an acknowledgment that holding public office often comes at great personal cost and sacrifice.”
As soon as the details were released, Gov. Phil Murphy called for Menendez’s resignation.
If Menendez does resign, Murphy will appoint someone to fill his term. There has been talk about Murphy’s wife, Tammy, possibly running for Senate.
Rep. Andy Kim has already challenged Menendez in the primary. Other members of the state’s congressional delegation were also considered possible candidates, but none were involved.
One of Menendez’s co-defendants, Valhana, returned from Egypt on Tuesday to appear in court. He was released on $5 million bail and must abide by a curfew and GPS monitoring and surrender his passport.
Two of the businessmen – Jose Uribe and Fred Daibes – are also expected to be arraigned.
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Prosecutors said an envelope filled with cash found at Menendez’s home bore Debbie’s DNA and was marked with the real estate developer’s return address.
Prosecutors said Harner promised to put Menendez’s wife on the company payroll in a low-profile or faceless job in exchange for Menendez using his influential position to promote foreign military sales to Egypt. and financing. Prosecutors allege Hana also paid a $23,000 home mortgage, wrote a $30,000 check to her consulting firm, promised her envelopes of cash, mailed her exercise equipment and purchased items found in the couple’s home. Some gold bars.
Nadine Menendez also denies the accusations and will contest them, her lawyer said.
The indictment alleges that Menendez repeatedly acted to benefit Egypt despite U.S. government concerns about the country’s human rights record, which in recent years prompted Congress to impose restrictions on aid.
Prosecutors detailed meetings and dinners between Menendez and Egyptian officials, saying Menendez provided sensitive U.S. government information to Egyptian officials and wrote a letter to other senators encouraging them to cancel their vote. Egypt’s $300 million in aid is on hold and Egypt is one of the largest recipients of US military support.
Prosecutors also accuse Menendez of trying to interfere with a criminal investigation involving associates. In one case, prosecutors said, he pushed for the appointment of a federal prosecutor in New Jersey who Menendez believed he could influence to undermine the criminal case against Dybes.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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